Women today lead busy lives and seldom have time to take care of themselves. They always seem to put others needs before their own. Not only are they overloaded with responsibilities, but they are also often short on time and low on the resources they need to pull everything off. Many things can start to go wrong in this process, especially when it comes to hormones.
“Manage Stress” - The adrenal glands are the body’s main stress responders. Problems arise when we experience chronic stress and the stress hormones, notably cortisol, remain elevated. Over time, this can result in adrenal fatigue. The good news is that there are steps you can take to optimize your adrenal function including exercise, relaxation and breathing techniques, restoring sleep (aim for 8 hours a night) and reducing refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol and processed foods. There also exist natural ingredients that are used to support the adrenal glands and help the body adapt to stress. These are termed “adaptogens” and include Ashwaghanda, Siberian Ginseng and Rhodiola to help reduce stress, improve energy & cravings as well as promote restful sleep.
“Control Estrogens” - The most prominent cause of hormone imbalance symptoms is excessive estrogen, deemed “estrogen dominance”. This can be associated with exposure to the birth control pill, poor diet, pesticides and other environmental toxins like those found in plastics (i.e. BPA), cleaning products, make-up and more. In fact the average woman applies more than 500 chemicals to her body every day! Women can reduce their exposure to environmental toxins and pesticides by eating organic products; not storing food in plastic containers; and avoiding beauty products containing phthalates and parabens. One of the liver’s main roles is to break down toxic or excess estrogen. Therefore, having a healthy, functioning liver is key to hormonal balance. When it comes to natural supplementation, look for a formula that contains ingredients such as milk thistle seed extract, Indole-3-Carbinol, Calcium-D-Glucarate and Sulphoraphane to promote liver detoxification and excretion of harmful estrogens. This can be used to help balance and relieve the symptoms of estrogen dominance, which include weight gain, fatigue, mood swings and brain fog.
“Cope with the Change” -The average age for menopause is 52, but it can happen at any time between the ages of 42 and 56. The 10 to 15 years leading up to menopause (one year without a period) are called peri-menopause. Up to 80% of women will experience mild to moderate menopause and peri-menopause symptoms; another 10-15% will experience severe symptoms. A healthy diet and supporting your adrenal glands (who take over hormone production once ovaries shut down) can contribute to relief of menopausal symptoms. Make time for yourself to relax and keep your bedroom cool at night. Hot flashes are fewer, less intense, and shorter in duration in cooler environments. Regular exercise can also help reduce hot flashes and improve mood and energy. In addition, natural formulas exist to support and relieve menopausal symptoms such hot flashes, night sweat, among others. Key ingredients to look for include, dong quai, vitex and black cohosh.
“Thyroid Support” - Don’t be surprised – up to 25% of North American women have low thyroid. And up to 30% of people over the age of 35 may have sub-clinical or mild hypothyroidism; when conventional lab testing is within normal range but they still experience many symptoms of low thyroid. It’s important to check with your doctor if you suspect low thyroid – up to 50% of sufferers are undiagnosed. Most women who are approaching menopause will experience symptoms of low thyroid. Because many symptoms of thyroid imbalance are similar to menopausal symptoms, it will often go unnoticed. Clinically low thyroid, as confirmed by your doctor, requires prescription medication. But if your thyroid tests are normal and you are still suffering from the symptoms of low thyroid, supplementing a healthy diet with natural nutritional and herbal supplementation can help. Look for ingredients such as L-Tyrosine, Guggal and Iodine to help ease the symptoms of low thyroid. Ask a natural health expert for a formula that is safe to use in combination with thyroid medications!
Hormones can wreak havoc on our lives in such a fast-paced, demanding, and overstimulating society. These can be a woman’s worst nightmare when they turn against her, leading to a multitude of symptoms that can make everyday tasks more difficult and reduce quality of life. The good news is that a few healthy habits, proper nutrition and natural supplementation can make a big difference in our hormones and how our bodies treat us. Whether they are moms, career persons, or both, women owe it to themselves to take proper care of their minds and bodies as they are held to high expectations and devote their lives to the care of others. Let’s strive to take care of the women in our lives and make sure they have the time, resources and support they need to feel great and succeed.
This column is sponsored by Good 'n' Natural in Steinbach.